"Gathered today are probably most of the leading experts on climate and health," he said. "This is the most important issue facing the health of humanity over the next 50 years, and we're fitting them all into one room."
That room was at the Carter Center, the nonprofit democracy-promotion and public health effort launched by former President Jimmy Carter. The 92-year-old Carter got a standing ovation when he popped into the conference hall, saying climate-driven shortages of clean water in the developing world will make his organization's job harder.
"When those things happen, the poorest people are the ones who suffer from worms in their bodies and going blind," he said. "We want to be part of this process as much as possible."
Carter said that while the CDC "has to be a little cautious politically, the Carter Center doesn't." He added, tongue-in-cheek, "I have Secret Service protection."
RELATED: Don't Politicize Government Research, Says Union of Concerned Scientists
Even in the developed world, a warmer climate can mean higher risk for diseases. Small increases in sea surface temperatures can raise the odds of contracting illnesses from seafood like vibriosis and ciguatera, said Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogen Institute at the University of Florida. Warmer weather as fueled algae outbreaks not only in Florida, but as far north as Alaska, he said.